Monday, November 10, 2014

What to do with your butts

I think every post I ever write unveils just how deep my frugality goes. Is frugality even a word? It is today. I'll make this one quick, because I now a ton of you are waiting for this cauliflower alfredo recipe. But I had to share this one to get to that one. You'll see why soon enough.

So, you know I'm always telling you to save all parts of your veggies. I love giving you all sorts of ways to use them, throwing very little away. I'm like the Native Americans ... only with veggies instead of buffalo. I can say that, being as I am part Native American. Maybe that's where I get this need to use every bit of everything? Any schnitzel, I specifically remember mentioning to keep a bag in your freezer in which you throw all your bits and pieces, day after day. Kind of like this.
My current stash of frozen bits
If you forget me telling you that (or if I forgot to tell you that but think that I did), then here's what I mean. When you have bits of veggie stuff that you'd typically throw out or compost, toss it in a freezer bag instead. Here's some examples:
Cauliflower leaves? ... throw them in the bag.

Onion skins? ... Yep, they are super full of nutrition and add a fab flavor to any veggie stock.

Garlic skins? ... Just like onions, they are perfect for this!
Don't forget to keep and freeze parsley/herb stems, carrot tips, etc! Once your bag is full, it might look a little like this.
Ready for stock!
Now, toss all those frozen bits and pieces in a soup/stock pot. Cover it with filtered water. Bring it to a boil. Let simmer for a few hours. I like to add some salt and spices (salt, cayenne, herbs). Drain through a nut milk bag or just a colander. Now you have veggie stock for rice, soups, etc. I freeze in one cup portions in my deep freeze, so they are always measured and ready for any recipe! This comes in super handy ... like tonight when I made curry and needed some stock on-hand!

So, go make some stock so you can create this amazeballs alfredo I'm going to share with you.


Friday, October 10, 2014

When life gives you cauliflower, make reubens.

Nom nom nom. 
Monster cauliflower! Sweet pie pumpkins! Hearty kale! Oh my! Locally grown loveliness is bountiful as our CSA for 2014 is still going strong. In fact, despite the cold weather, we've been getting more veggies than this entire season! And they are beautiful.

Last week we got these massive cauliflower heads. It had big leaves attached, which I had to remove just to get it in my bag so I could get it home. I'm sure everyone has a million things they can do with cauliflower: Roasted with turmeric, raw cauliflower spanish rice (thank you Lori for bringing this to my attention!), roasted cauliflower & garlic soup, steamed cauliflower with garlic "butter". So, I'm not going to talk about the part of cauliflower that you typically eat. I'm here to talk about those leaves I cut off. 

We are always so quick to disgard leaves. But, when you think about it, lettuce is leaves. Kale is leaves. Chard is leaves. Collards are leaves. And if you can eat those, you can eat cauliflower or broccoli leaves. They are in the exact family as kale, you know. 

I've been known to fill & roll them with some soaked and cooked black beans, avocado and tomato and lightly sauté in a pan. Or just use them as a wrap for your sandwich. They are extremely low in calories, unbelievably high in nutrients and minerals and help you (and me) look younger than our years. Greens are the fountain of youth ... both inside and out. So, throwing them out is not an option for me. Here's a quick idea for lunch this week. Put the turkey sandwich down (I'm talking to you, my husband). Open your mind & your mouth. Taste the goodness.

Reubens, revisited
Vegan reuben: Plant based, full of probiotics & enzymes, vitamins, minerals and protein.

  • Cauliflower leaves
  • Grain free tempeh (this is literally the only way I will eat soy products ... fermented)
  • Real sauerkraut (I make this myself. It's super easy!)
  • Homemade Thousand Island (I literally will just mix mayo/vegenaise with organic ketchup and relish or homemade chopped pickles). Alternatively, you can use Hummus or Tahini, which I also LOVE.
  • (Optional) Wilted spinach leaves

  • Trim center stalk out of leaves.
  • Lightly brown tempeh in a cast iron skillet.
  • Roll spinach leaves in your hands until they are wilted and soft.
  • Place tempeh, spinach & sauerkraut in your leaf & top with thousand island, hummus or tahini. 
  • Roll the leaf around the goodies & eat your heart healthy.
Trim the tough center vein out of the leaf & toss that vein in your freezer for veggie stock later.
Add the tempeh, sauce, sauerkraut & wilted spinach. 

It looks divine and your cells (and energy levels) will say "thank you". 
 I can't talk while my mouth is being stuffed full of deliciousness.
Happy lunching!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Break(fast) outside the box.

If you haven't noticed, I just took a little hiatus. The fam and I went on a little extended vacation to the East Coast. We always go to the beach the third week of September, when all the kids are back in school (except mine), the rates are cheaper (you know I love that), and the weather is a perfect low-mid 80s with bath water temperature ocean water. The only thing I don't like about taking vacation that week, is that it seems we leave Ohio in summer weather and come back to 50 degree fall weather. I don't know how this happens in a 1-2 week window, but it does. So, we go from sweaty sunny beach days to ... fall.

Now, I'm not anti fall. I'm not. I'm anti winter and spring. If fall went straight back into summer, well, I think I would never complain about anything ever again. Fall is cozy. I want to light candles all day, diffuse earthy essential oils and wrap up in a blanket and a good book with a cup of nettles tea and a bowl of pumpkin fauxtmeal.


Yes, pumpkin fauxtmeal.

I never intended for this blog to be all about food, and, trust me, it won't be. But I do love food and spend probably more than half my life creating it. Which makes it natural for me to have a lot to say about it. And I think we get caught up in food ruts. So, I like to share different ways of doing the same old ... same old. Now, ditch that lectin filled oatmeal and give this a try. You will be deliciously excited. Your digestion will thank you. And your cells will be full of immune boosting vitamins and antioxidants. (Flu shot, who?). I've had this for breakfast every morning, and it's time I stop being stingy and let you in on my morning indulgence (is it still an indulgence if it's much lower in calories than oatmeal and very high in nutrition? Probably not, but your taste buds will never know).

Can I get a spoon high five?

Finished fauxtmeal with ceylon cinnamon, chia seeds and coconut milk on top.
  • 1 Pie Pumpkin (or acorn squash, butternut squash, alternative winter squash)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup shredded coconut (more or less depending on preference)
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil (or butter, earth balance, etc.)
  • 1 Tsp cinnamon
  • Big pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Sweetener of choice (I used coconut nectar and stevia together, but honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar would all work deliciously too!)
  • Toppings of choice (chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, cranberries, etc.) 
  • Heat oven to 400. 
  • Half the pumpkin, scoop out the seeds (throw them out or roast them), and place (cut side down) in a baking dish with 1/2" of water in the bottom of the pan. 
  • Roast in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes (or until a fork will go through the skin). 
  • While this is cooking, melt coconut oil (or butter) with sweetener (the amount will vary depending on what you use) and spices/salt.
  • Once pumpkin is soft, flip it so cut side is now up. Drizzle with the melted mixture of oil, sugar and spices and put back in the oven (still cut side up) for another 20 minutes. 
  • Once pumpkin is a nice golden color, remove from the skin and puree in a blender or vitamin (I've even used my bullet blender). 
Blended roasted pumpkin, ready for the fixins!

You can use the shredded coconut as is, or you can toast it. Toasting it gives it a warm nutty flavor that is unmistakeable to coconut. I'm a big fan. The coconut also gives it the "oatmeal" texture. So, add more or less, depending on your preference. Too much might make it a little chewier. So, start with less and work your way up through taste testing. 
Warm toasted coconut.
  • Stir about half the amount (depending on your appetite and the size) of the pumpkin in with the toasted coconut. Taste for seasoning and add more spices/sweetener to your liking. Top with chia or pumpkin seeds, coconut milk, a dash of cinnamon, maybe some raisins. Sit back and enjoy!
  • Save the leftover pumpkin for tomorrow! But be sure to keep the coconut separate as to keep it's slightly crunchy texture. 
Your pumpkin will be too much for one meal.
So, save the pureed pumpkin in the fridge, and heat up in a pan tomorrow morning! 

This week, I roasted one acorn squash and a pie pumpkin, pureed it and kept it in the fridge. It's fed me for 4 mornings so far, and I still have another serving for tomorrow. Not bad for $2, which was the total I paid for the squashes at the local market. And the pumpkin, cinnamon, raw honey, coconut are all cold and flu bug fighters. So ... breakfast for the win!

Now can I get that spoon high five?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Youponing: Cleaning products

That better not be chemicals in that bottle, missy! 
If people knew how easy it was to make your own cleaners and how dangerous the chemicals are in the grody chemical ones, then not one cleaner would be for sale at your local chain store. Not one. That stuff goes down the drain. Then we drink it. Um, gross. 

Did you know that since WWII, at least 75,000 new synthetic chemical compounds have been developed and released into the environment? Did you know that there is a wealth of evidential proof linking cancer to environmental contamination? Breast cancer rates are 30 times higher in the US than in Africa. 80% of all cancers are attributed to environmental influences. In short … drumroll … we are giving ourselves cancer. 

No bueno, folks!

You may not know it, but many of these cancer causing chemicals are used just to clean your house. Did you ever wonder why you have a bit of a sore throat if you use bleach to clean your bathroom? Or your eyes and skin burn when using such cleaners? Cleaning chemicals suspend in the air for hours and even days, and are easily inhaled. Just like a laboratory, when different chemicals come together when cleaning they can create entirely new toxic substances. This is why the air in our homes is 5 times more toxic than the air outside. Bet you never thought that was possible! It doesn't disappear when it goes down the drain either. It's forever in our water supply. There is no such thing as throwing anything "away".

The companies that make your cleaning products aren't required to list their ingredients because they are considered trade secrets. So, I'll list them for you, but I'll only list a small fraction of them. Alkyl phenoxy polyethoxy ethanols-laundry detergent (stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells), ammonia (causes bronchial damage, chemical burns & corneal damage), Benzene-class cleaners/all purpose cleaners & disinfectants (carcinogen made from petroleum and coal), Butyl Cellosolve-all purpose cleaners & cleansers (irritates mucous membranes and causes liver and kidney damage), Chlorine-bleach/diswasher detergent/scouring powders (causes reproductive, endocrine and immune system disorders. In all bleach action cleaners.), Dioxane-window cleaners (hazardous air pollutant and supresses the immune system)...the list goes on and on.

There are plenty of eco-friendly cleaners out there. If you're local to NEO, Green Clean makes a killer product and is now available at Heinen's. If not, Seventh Generation makes some great all-purpose cleaners. Use a micro-fiber for dusting, and you will not need any dusting spray. Use newspaper and water as a glass cleaner. It's a great way to recycle your newspaper, and it's an excellent no-streak cleaner! Steer clear of products that claim to be green (ahem … I'm talking to you, you big toxic bleach company!) but still contain some unnatural ingredients and are owned by one of the largest producers of chemical laden cleaning products, only to jump on the "green bandwagon" for the sake of the mighty dollar.

If you're looking to save some green yourself, make your own products! We make our own, and they work just as good (if not better) than any of the $4/bottle chemical products out there. We make them for pennies! Buy a couple of spray bottles, and here are some recipes:

We use these three recipes for EVERYTHING!

CLEANSER (replaces comet or bon-ami): Baking soda.....that's it....just baking soda. We use it on our tub and it works great! Add a smidge of vinegar for foaming action. To make a cream cleanser, add a dab of liquid dish soap. I use baking soda with my vinegar spray (to disinfect) and a few drops of Dr. Bronner's to make it a creamy, grime fighting germ killer!

SPRAY CLEANER-ALL PURPOSE: Equal parts white vinegar & water and a few drops your choice of essential oil. We like lavender and/or peppermint oils and sometimes even mix them.

1/2 teaspoon oil, such as olive (or jojoba, a liquid wax)
1/4 cup vinegar or fresh lemon juice
Mix the ingredients in a glass jar. Dab a soft rag into the solution and wipe onto wood surfaces. Cover the glass jar and store indefinitely.

Mix together in a 4 Cup (or larger) Wide Mouth Jar with Lid then pour into spray bottle.
* 2 Cups of Baking Soda
* 1/8 Cup Liquid Castile Soap
* 25 drops lavender essential oil
* 15 drops tea tree essential oil
* 1 1/4 Cups Water

Simply pour about 1/2 cup of baking soda into a bowl, and add enough liquid detergent to make a texture like frosting. Scoop the mixture onto a sponge, and wash the surface. This is the perfect recipe for cleaning the bathtub because it rinses easily and doesn’t leave grit.
Note: Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin to the mixture and store in a sealed glass jar, to keep the product moist. Otherwise just make as  much as you need at a time.

1/2 teaspoon washing soda
A dab of liquid dish soap
2 cups hot tap water
Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake until the washing soda has dissolved. Apply and wipe off with a sponge or rag.

We have the earth in our hands. We have our children and grandchildren's future in our hands. 

The best thing we can do for ourselves is to be informed. Ignorance is not bliss. It leads to disease, toxic living environments and the rapid death of our rainforests and precious planet.

• Environmental facts are taken from & available to read in "The Complete Organic Pregnancy" by Deirdre Dolan & Alexandra Zissu, HarperCollinsPublishers, C 2006
• Cleaners are either my own recipes or recipes found on the internet or a combination of both 

Live free of chemical burdens, y'all! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Youponing: DIY coconut milk

I gave up dairy years ago, in an effort to reduce inflammation in my sweet, one-time-use vessel. I never liked cow milk. I always thought the smell was off-putting. But, I did used to use soy milk for cereals and such. Fast-forward 10+ years later, and I'm off the soy too (I'll explain later). So, what's a girl to do? I love almond milk, but I do fear the dreaded PUFA over-consumption. And I am NOT about to give up my obsession with sunflower seed butter just so I can squeeze in the PUFAs in almond milk and keep my omegas balanced.

But I NEED something white and creamy for my smoothies and recipes!!!

Oh, hello coconut milk. I didn't see you there. You're so chill and easy going. I bet it was that island life you lived, wasn't it? You just slid right into my life when I needed you most and said "Ya mon, I heah for ya."

Have you ever tried coconut milk? It's darn good. But the price tag can get a bit sticky for us frugal folk. But, never fear, I'm here to show you the ways of my alter ego "Thrifty Cent". Here's my super easy peasy version for the busy mama or the just plain lazy.

First, go to Trader Joes. Almost all of their cans are BPA free, and you will pay at least 1/3rd of what you would anywhere else. There you will find these most magnificent cans of light coconut milk for 99 cents. Yep, that's less than a buck, guys!

Under a buck at Traders, y'all!  

Second, open up that bad boy and dump into a quart jar and add one can full of water to it. (Or go crazy and do twice the milk in a half gallon mason jar, like I do).

I prefer a wide mouth jar. 
Third, sprinkle in a pinch of salt and then whatever else you would like to flavor it with. I like vanilla and coconut sugar (coconut, meet coconut) or stevia. I've even made peppermint at Christmas time!

Vanilla & sea salt is always a good choice!!!

Fourth, shake, chill & enjoy.

Last, say thank you for just saving you a few bucks on coconut milk.

Someday I'll show you how to make it from scratch using the dried stuff!

Love & coconuts!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thursday zuke party

It's Thursday, which means it's pick-up day for this week's CSA (community supported agriculture). I have a bunch of zucchini in my fridge, and I like this. I like this a lot. Zucchini always reminds me of summer when I was younger. Oh those days … when I was young and thought the world and everything in it was perfection. Zucchini reminds me of a time before pain, before anxiety, before complications. Okay, that was way overly dramatic. But it does remind me of summer when I was growing up.


I'm so glad you asked.

My mom's side of the family is Italian. And Italians are passionate about their food. No really. They are. (So, forgive me, family, if I have this all wrong. I am going by memories of 25 years ago.) My late Great Aunt Lou used to make this dish we like to call "fried zucchini". It's not really fried, but it is zucchini. And this dish is so delicious and easy (how many times can I tell you that I like things easy?) that you're going to wonder why you never thought of it before.

Our CSA gives us a lot of yellow summer squash too. Feel free to mix and match. I used zucchini and yellow squash today. Traditionally, this was just the green stuff. I never saw yellow in it as a child. But I add yellow. Yellow is happiness. It's sunshine. And it means summer. So, mix em if you got em.

Without further adieu….

Finished fried zucchini (sans pecorino, as I am dairy free these days) with a side of broccoli slaw

2 Large or 3 small-med summer squash - sliced thin
1/2-1 Large onion (depending on how much you like onions. We love them. So, I use 1 good sized onion per recipe)
3 Local free range eggs - scrambled (we just can't rationalize eating those caged chicken eggs from the chain grocers. It's inhumane and frankly … gross. Click here for the details. Locals are not much more expensive and eons better for you.)
Salt to preferred taste (I like TONS of himalayan)
Pepper to taste (if your system can handle pepper. Mine cannot, so I skip it.)
1/4-1/2 cup pecorino romano (optional) 
3 T coconut oil (can sub olive if need be & olive is what my family used. I prefer to cook these temps with coconut because it is more stable with higher heats.)

Slice the onion into rings and then half the rings. Place them in a cast iron skillet (stainless is fine if you don't have cast iron) with the oil and sauté them a bit until they are a little translucent. Crank the heat up and add the slices of squash on top. 

Let them sizzle and fry. Don't stir too often or they break, but stir enough to get them all to brown. 
Pretty pretty summer squash sizzling with onions. I added some jalapeños from my garden to spice it up a little! 

Once they are all browned and a little soft, add the egg. Fold it in so it coats all the veggies. 

Squashes with the egg. I usually brown them a bit more, but I am hungry and cannot wait any longer!

Add salt, pepper and pecorino. Fold in and serve. I like to top with a little fresh parsley. 


Monday, August 11, 2014

I throw the best pity parties around.

Image available for purchase and copyright by Etsy artist outiart. Please see for purchase.

Spoiler alert: Some days I really suck. 

Today I had a pity party. It started this morning when both of my kids decided to cry for two hours straight, which was a carryover from last night when they decided to cry for 3 hours straight. They were exhausted after a very long weekend and nothing could calm them… the sleep they got overnight, the hugs, the bribing, the threats ... nothing. It got to a point where I had to eventually just leave them safely in one room and go sit in another by myself to breathe. That was the finger that nudged the first domino, and the rest of the day I threw myself a pity party. 

     I felt bad for myself. It was the kind of day that, if I didn't have kids, I would've sat on the couch all day with a box of Kleenex, an entire bag of chocolate chips, a bottle … scratch that ... a magnum of wine, and zero agenda. I don't know why, but I still have those days where I trick myself into thinking that it feels really good to throw an all-day-long self-pity party (worse than a two-year-old). All day I pouted and whimpered. "Life is so hard right now.". "Why don't we have more money?".  "I can't even get groceries today.". I felt like such a failure. In my life B.C. (before children ... and husband), I made (by myself) twice as much money as were bringing in right now. I remember having these pity parties then too, and I was only ONE person. Now I wonder where all that money went and how we are living on a fraction of that with 4 people. Here's the gist of the string of thoughts that went in circles in my scattered head all day long: "I don't know what to do. I have nowhere to go from here. Where can I go from here? Why aren't there more signs as to where to go? How can I even quiet my mind long enough to see any signs when I'm too stressfully busy with 2 kids, 2  businesses, freelancing jobs, housework & meal prep? It'll get better when the kids get bigger.  But will it?" I think I like to tell myself that sometimes ... "it will get easier when the kids get bigger", but in reality, what I really should be telling myself is, "it'll get better when I get bigger."

     As soon as my husband got home I left. I kind of had to. You know ... for my spirit. Have you ever had one of those days where you just can't wait to step away from your own life? Just for a minute? Just for a brief little breather that will hopefully bring you back to sanity? Well I took my brief little minute and ended up at Marc's. I left the stress at home to go to Marc's. I left one big frustration for a bigger frustration. Some of  you out-of-towners wouldn't know what Marc's is, but there are very few bigger frustrations than shopping there. It is a discount store full of groceries and everyday products and home goods, and it is a madhouse ... ALL. THE. TIME. But today it was a madhouse of a lesson. I walked in with my pocket of change, knowing I only had a certain amount to spend. I had to pick things up only to put things back down. Pick up another item ... put that back too. "Oh here comes the self pity party again", I thought. "I can't afford all this stuff I don't need at the cheapest store in town." Boo hoo. By golly, I was only there for organic sugar to brew some water kefir. But it wasn't the sugar that I was at Marc's for today, apparently. My good friend (and sometimes, adversary) universe had different plans.

     While I was at Marc's, I saw a woman with a baby. She was in front of me in the register line. I got sappy (and baby hungry) when I saw the little nugglet sleeping all snuggled up against his mommy. She was wearing him, and it always warms my heart to see a mom wearing her baby. She was humming and smiling and used WIC to buy her groceries. She seemed so grateful and content. And I was so proud to see what she bought: Lettuce, tomatoes, eggplant and fruit. Nothing was unhealthy. You don't see that a whole lot. Normally, when you're struggling financially, you try to make the dollar stretch and are forced to buy processed foods. I know this, and I completely understand. But there I was, trying to buy my box of lettuce and sugar with my pennies, just like she was, and I realized how lucky we both were to be able to buy anything healthy at all. Well played universe. I'm listening. Gratitude where gratitude is due. Thank you for my nutrient dense lettuce today.

The guy behind me was another lesson in the opposite direction. He was talking to a little boy about how he used to be single and the life of the party before he became a dad. And now that he's got a baby at home, he doesn't have any fun anymore. I couldn't imagine telling a little boy that a child changed my life from a ball of fun to a prison. Oh what that little boy must have felt. Did he feel like a burden? Did he lose some of his self worth? Uh oh, self-check … was my attitude today telling my children the same thing without literally saying it? Again universe, well played. Lesson #2 ... CHECK!

     This dichotomy in front of me and behind me moved me on the inside. I walked out of the store thinking, "How did I come here for sugar but left with such a blessed lesson? And gosh am I fortunate to even be gifted this lesson, in the first place, when I was such an asshole today.". When I got back to my car, I noticed that the truck I parked next to had a message on the window that said "Sow only seeds of love" right next to his Jack Johnson sticker. With a smile (and a feeling that this was the closure to my lesson), I said "Thanks buddy. I like Jack too. It's my favorite Pandora station." (that last part is irrelevant, but it's how my mind works). With that I realized that my entire day ... my entire day ... I did not do that. I did not sow seeds of love.  My seeds were of sadness, depression and stupidity. And it took a trip to the most annoying place in my world to make me realize that I am so blessed.

     For the rest of the day (and as long as I can remember this trip) I will try to replace my pity parties with thoughts of love. Because we really have to be careful what we're growing. We really have to be careful what we're growing, especially when we are growing our children alongside ourselves. I also realized that I am not the failure that I felt I was. If I'd have learned nothing, then I would have failed. But I'm still learning, yearning and listening … even through the chaos and the screams of my beautiful and amazing children.

And then it rained, washing all the yucky parts away. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

NEW PRODUCT: All natural and organic deodorant

I'm so excited to announce the next product of my line. I've been using this deodorant for YEARS! When I got pregnant with my first child, I knew I had to kick the chemical habit. Everything that goes on to our skin gets absorbed into our bloodstream. So, not only do we have to worry about what we eat and breathe, but what we touch, as well. Once I tried this on myself, I got hooked. I found it worked better than my old toxic-laden conventional deodorant, and I didn't have to worry about the questionable ingredients.

The aluminum in conventional deodorant has long been linked to several health risks, including alzheimer's. As always, I'm not here to knock anyone down or to judge what other companies decide to use as their ingredients. You can decide for yourself with a quick google search. But I am here to tell you that you have a choice!

And I choose natural, baby. Oh yeah. You with me? If so, I now have my creation for sale. You can choose from any of these yummy scents:
Unscented - no essential oils added, just sweet smell of coconut oil & shea
Love - sandalwood, bergamot, & jasmine
Chillax - lavender, patchouli, marjoram, orange, geranium & chamomile
Peppermint Patty - sweet peppermint
Purify - Citrus, grapefruit & eucalyptus
Peaceful Patchouli - sweet patchouli
Citrus Blast - orange, lemon, lime & pink grapefruit
Harmonize - cedarwood, clary sage, chamomile, geranium, lavender & rosemary
Meditate - ylang ylang, patchouli, frankincense, citrus & clary sage

Here it is! Now available at my etsy site. Click here.

Brocc stalk slaw

Hey ya'll. Thrifty Cent is back! (That's my frugal alter ego). Remember way back when, when I told you to save those broccoli stalks instead of ditching them? Well, I have a pile I've saved since that post that I'm now ready to do something with.

Enter, brocc stalk slaw.
Such a pretty lunch … for almost being tossed in the trash!
Nobody can believe how unbelievable tasty this is. It's such a quick salad to put together. You can keep it (no dressing) in the fridge all week (munchies require quick pickin's & this kills pretzels in a nutritional battle) and pull out in times of hunger. You know I like easy. I ain't got time for hard! And I want you to spend your time with your loved ones instead of in the kitchen.

Let's see what we've got. Somewhere between 7-10 stalks of broccoli are ready to go!
Broccoli stalks ready to be skinned.
These stalks need the outer layer taken off. It contains fibers that are too hard to chew through. But inside, there's a crispy and delicate core that resembles the texture of a pickling cucumber with the slight flavor of broccoli … only sweeter. I use a chef's knife to slice off the "skin".
Broccoli stalk core, ready to be shredded. 
Now that your skins are off, don't throw them away! You can juice them in place of the kale stems in this juice or any of your favorite green juice recipes. Or you can throw them in the freezer for veggie stock. I'll cover veggie stock soon!
Broccoli stalk skins ready to juice or freeze.
 Grab some slices of sweet onion. Vidalias are lovely! Chop them small.
Don't forget your sweet onion. It adds a level of flavor and is a boost of immune support!
Next, shred your broccoli stalk using a cheese grater or a food processor. I prefer the processor. I think the cheese grater should legally change its name to "knuckle ruiner".
Shred your stalk on a cheese grater or in a food processor. 
 Dump your shredded stalk and onion into a bowl and top with dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds and drizzle with ACV (apple cider vinegar) and sea salt. Alternatively, you can use my ACV honey dressing, but I like just plain ACV! I always soak, sprout & dehydrate my pumpkin seeds before eating them, for extra ease on my digestion and maximum absorption of vitamins and nutrients. I'll go over soaking and sprouting soon!
Lunch today: pairing my brocc stalk slaw with my summer squash dish (which is up next! Stay tuned!).

I really hope you like this one! It's so easy and really a crowd pleaser! I just love creating things out of parts you'd normally think to just throw away or compost. It's so satisfying!

Happy lunching!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sun babies of the world, unite in good cheer!

My sun baby & future pipeline champion.

Finally. Finally. Finally! I've been waiting to say this, but my sunscreen is finally for sale in my etsy shop. Being a full-time mom (of two very active young beings), as well as a freelance graphic designer and owner/operator of two businesses leaves not much time for getting new ventures off the ground at breakneck pace. I'm more like a snail. But slow and steady wins the race. Right?

So, without further adieu, I present to you …
All natural sunscreen and after sun skin care - 2 in 1!
And can I get a shout out for Folly Beach? I'm sporting some FB stickers in this shot. 

Don't you hate that most all natural sunscreens leave you super pasty? Not this one!

You get to choose your SPF factor. I can make SPF 10+, 20+ or 30+. And each ingredient is super yummy for your skin (and wrinkles and suppleness and touchability and sexiness!). The difference between my concoction and other homemade versions is that mine uses all organic ingredients! (Some ingredients don't come organic). Even those "natural" sunscreens on the market have questionable ingredients. Be kind to your skin. Nourish it. It's the largest organ you've got! No grody toxins, chemicals, alcohol, petroleum, titanium dioxide, PABA, parabens, dimethicone & fillers. Because I shy away from toxins, each batch is sold in a 4 oz glass jar with a metal lid. I like earth. A lot. I'm kind of her love slave.

There are 3 available scents: "smells so good you want to eat it (but please don't)" Orange Dreamsicle (citrus notes with vanilla undertones), Chillaxin' (lavender highlights with an earthy baseline) or Unscented (which still has an earthy scent because oils from mother earth just do. You can blame the carrot seed oil!).

Here you go!

SESAME OIL: Contains vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant, fighting free radicals and oxidation that come with sun exposure. It contains lots of skin loving acids that act as an emollient moisturizer for your skin. It even slows down skin aging with sesamol, which is an antioxidant that prevents the appearance of fine lines & wrinkles. It also detoxifies & repairs damaged skin cells. How's that for a super power?!

COCONUT OIL: Is antibacterial, antiviral & antimicrobial, thanks to it's lauric acid. It's full of medium chain fatty acids that act as a loving barrier to your precious bod. Plus it's uber moisturizing because of all its fattiness!

SHEA BUTTER: Is super healing for the skin. It's full of vitamins and nutrients that treat blemishes, wrinkles, eczema, stretch name it! It's packed with antioxidants like vitamin E, polyphenols and phyotnutrients, making it  an anti-inflammatory an soothing to your skin.

BEESWAX: Acts as a protective barrier on the surface of the skin while still allowing the skin to breathe. It also is what makes this sunscreen water resistant!

ZINC OXIDE: Is an extremely broadband UV protector. It's extremely stable on the skin, as well, no matter how long you are baking on the beach. I use only non nano zinc oxide so it does not get absorbed into your blood stream. It stays put on top. On top of being a die hard UV protector, it also is an excellent wound healer and sunburn soother. How's that for a triple threat?!

CARROT SEED OIL: Has an insane amount of antioxidants that shield your skin from environmental attacks! Those same antioxidants help prevent and repair skin damage from sun, smoke, poor diet and a harsh environment. Beta carotene and vitamins A&E work to nourish dry and aging skin and can reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles. It's SPF factor is one of the highest out there! It's earthy aroma is used in aromatherapy to relieve stress and exhaustion. Now that makes for an even more relaxing day at the beach.

RED RASPBERRY SEED OIL: Is high in vitamins A & E and essential fatty acids which all help to repair and condition the skin (fountain of youth?). It also contains linoleic, alpha linolenic, and oleic acids which help reduce the damaging effects of free radicals on the skin, while pumping the skin full of moisture. It is shown to help prevent rash, eczema, and other skin lesions, while boasting major anti-inflammatory properties. Raspberry seed oil also act as a broad-spectrum UV-shield, helping to protect skin from the damaging rays of the sun.


If you are ordering a sunscreen off etsy, but wish to pick it up instead, please use this coupon code to avoid shipping: LOCALPICKUP44107

• Due to the nature of some of these oils, this sunscreen may start to liquefy in high heat. Don't fret! It won't hurt it. 
• Natural oils have a shelf life. Please use within 8 months. Store in the fridge for a longer shelf life.
 This sunscreen has not been laboratory tested for the exact SPF factor. The SPF is my best guestimate based on the ingredients I use. I make no warranty about the effectiveness. 
 Sometimes people can be sensitive to certain topical ingredients, even though it's rare. Please use common sense and test on a small patch of skin before heavy use. I ask that you do your own research about the ingredients of this product. I do not claim to prevent, treat or cure any disease/condition with this (or any) product. Any and all information I have stated regarding the ingredients was gathered online and is free information to the public. I did not create any statements. I only relayed information. 
 Please, always use common sense when spending time in the sun. Before sun exposure, spread evenly and massage thoroughly over skin. Reapply every few hours or as needed and after prolonged swimming.
 Always check with your doctor if you are pregnant or nursing. And always check with your or your child's doctor before using any new products.

With love & extreme gratitude,

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sun Goddess

Sandy Beach, Hawaii.

Well, it doesn't quite feel like summer here in North East Ohio, even though it's mid-July. However, the sun is still there, and she's kickin'! I don't know about you, but I'm a sun worshiper. Sure, I live in NEO, but I am convinced that I was an island girl in my past lives ... all of them. And I know that I will be living coastal again soon. It's my destiny. I feel it in my bones and every cell. I can't hear the word "California" without the mournful feeling that I left half my soul there and need to get her back asap.

Meanwhile, as I manifest California (I'm open to Hawaii too, just throwin' that out there) into my reality, I like to take advantage of the short but gorgeous summers here on the lake. I'm a firm believer in seizing opportunity, even if you aren't in your complete destiny yet. This whole ride needs to give me butterflies in my stomach. So, I often escape to the sandy (and rocky) shores of Lake Erie.

Water = Life, even lake water ...

I have a favorite spot that I discovered (thanks Mom!) after ... 9 years of living here? We just found it this year. Waterfall on one side, big body of water on the other, strip of sand in the middle. Paradise? Close! Probably as close as you can get in the midwest. Just when I thought I couldn't live here another second, something this beautiful popped up and gave me a little bit of relief. Isn't it nice when the universe does that for you? Gives you a little cushion ... a little "you've been good, here's a treat."?
Isn't she a pretty little treat?
My oasis, sanctuary, church, meditation room & sanity. Not a bad life for a log.
Same log, looking out to the lake. He picked a great spot to lay to rest. 
In this incredibly confusing and distracting time of social media, oversharing, chaos, corporate greed, video gaming, spending beyond our means (for things that will just end up in a landfill); it's imperative for our existence to delve into nature ... to sit, listen, release thoughts, cleanse the mind, forgive, forget, breathe and just simply BE. Be one with it. Feel yourself a part of it. Listen to the waves and allow them to pull the anger/hurt/resentment from your mind and visualize them washing away forever. Let go. Feel the sun pulsate through your veins. Nature has a life-force. Nature is a life-force. Sometimes we get so caught up in "having to do this" or "that" or "work" or "clean" (or anything that distracts us from what we really are) that we forget the most essential part of living. We don't have to wait for vacation to relax. We deserve to relax daily. Take 5 or 10 minutes even. My 2 kids are attached to my hip, but I take them. I want them to grow up immersed in this. 

There's a healing power to connecting to the earth that regrounds and recenters us. In life, there is nothing we HAVE to do, other than be HAPPY. And there's nothing more important to do, than be happy. It's the most essential thing to pass on. And sometimes, even a short skip to a special spot, a few times a week, can release the stress that binds us in this daily grind.

Man oh man, I do get distracted easily. I actually came to announce the unofficial  release of my sunscreen, arriving in just under 2 weeks from today! But, like I do, I got caught up in the eb and flow of my thoughts, which ran away with me! I've had so many people come to me asking which brand of sunscreen was the "best" or "safest" for their crunchygranola skin and their kid's skin too. So, I decided to take my recipe to the masses. It's probably no secret that conventional sunscreens are laden with problematic ingredients (not to mention the recent "news" on the dangers of the spray stuff!!!). I'm not here to knock anyone down, but you can read the long list of sunscreen ingredients and their effects on your body by clicking here to EWG's website. I always reference EWG for anything I put on my body or on my precious kids' bodies. After trying several brands of "natural sunscreen" for years, I found that I just didn't love that I couldn't rub them in nicely. Not to mention some still contained things that I was just not 100% comfortable with. So, coming soon (in "unscented" for tots; "dreamcicle" or "chillaxin" for us big kids), at an etsy shop (or pick up) near you ...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Just so you know

I fail a lot. Daily, actually. I failed in parenting, wifing, gratituding and baking today. The good news is I get to try again tomorrow. Well ... Except for the plantain chips. I think I'll leave those up to trader joes from now on. They might be the one thing you can buy cheaper than making them yourself.

Rest in peace, plantains. 

Scape to paradise

Today I'm talkin' rawsta. Why? Because summer squash is here, and it's my duty to share the tastiness. Above: Finished garlic scape pesto rawsta. See below for the details! 

So, do you remember that recipe I gave for garlic scape pesto? Well, this week we received a yellow summer squash in our CSA. And, I found this to be the perfect opportunity to make a raw pasta, or as I like to call it, rawsta!

Who doesn't love pesto in the summer? I ended up using this recipe instead (only, I don't do roasted nuts and used soaked and dehydrated pine nuts instead). I found it to be just a little bit easier. And if you've been following my blog, you know that I like easy. I mean, why be hard? Hard is too, well… hard. I want to make your life easy. It's too short to be hard.
Pesto is finished. Now it's time to spiralize this squash! (Sorry about the bad pic. Sun going down = high contrast shots = pesto not looking as good as it tastes!)

One gadget that I cannot live without is a spiralizer. If you do not have a spiralizer, get one today. I mean stop reading this blog right now and run to target or Williams-Sonoma or and get yourself one. I have a Ben Riner  but any will do, really. They have much cheaper ones now. It's the healthiest and cheapest kitchen gadget you can possibly get yourself this summer. You will never know how you lived without it. And it will help keep that yellow polka dot bikini looking oh so hot on your booty.
My Ben Riner spiralizer. Simply put squash in and turn. It magically becomes rawsta!
Spiralized squash. Yummy & nutritious noodles to top with anything under the sun! This is a big dinner plate. One squash made that many noodles. 
Save the ends of your squash that the spiralizer couldn't spiralize. Put them in your "spare parts" bucket (I use a pyrex and fill it through the week, then juice with fruit and lemon) in the fridge for juice, or cut them into a salad this week. 
Once the squash is spiralized, top with just a dollup of the pesto (a little goes a LONG way with pesto, folks). And now it's time to dig in.
Summer squash noodles. Delicate & delicious and almost no calories. 

So there's not much easier than this dish. You just spiralize your squash, blend up some pesto in the vitamix or blender, combine them, and eat. Pretty easy. You don't even have to turn the stove on and heat up your house up this July. Winner winner chicken-less dinner!

Oooh, and it's so pretty. And so are you. No really. You're beautiful. Now feed those beautiful cells some really healthy food.

Mangia mangia,

Sunday, July 6, 2014

You are the most important person in the world.

It's true. You are important & you are loved.

Yes, I'm talking to you.

You might feel small and insignificant sometimes, or all the time. But you are bigger than the moon. Your life touches dozens each day, hundreds each week, thousands each year. Your words penetrate open ears. Your ideas expand open minds. Every conversation you have is important, even if it's not. Even if you're talking about the Kardashians, you can bet your ass that the person you're talking to needed that down moment of utter pointless chatter. A rest for their brain.

Your thoughts become you. Are they becoming? I hope so. Because you are changing everyone you come in contact with. You are built from love. You are here to love. And you are moving toward becoming a beaming light of love and only love.

Every moment of your life is important. I want you to know that.

You are here for one big reason. You are changing the world.  That's why you're the most important person in it.

Thank you for being, for teaching & for living.

Your friend & fellow important person,